|There's an odd smell of something burning when the red light goes on.
I'm not afraid of that thin filament of light aimed at my temples, although
the radiology attendants move quickly out of the room and hide behind a
lead-clad door when they turn it on. The red light will stop the growing
tumors in what little good brain I have left. Then I can write with a pen
again like a grown-up instead of a second grader, and soon I'll get to
try on wigs and scarves and turn into a glamorous blonde or redhead in
the private rooms of Harry's House of Hair on North Avenue in New Rochelle.
On the other hand, I never knew there would be a mask. On the first day of my radiology, I met the attendants - Jennifer, a sweet young thing, and Dot, a tall, sullen person who took a Polaroid snapshot of me for "patient identification." They helped me to lie down on a narrow metal table, then molded a wet plastic netting to my face and let it harden, pressing down on my eyes and nose for a tight fit to keep me from moving. I lay very still as they fastened the back of the mask (and my head along with it) to the table. My husband wanted to watch everything, to know everything that was happening to me, but I couldn't let him see the mask, my death's head, and pointed my finger at the door to send him away.
I don't even dare to breathe when I'm pinned to the table, and somehow have to swallow my anxiety without moving any of the muscles in my mouth or throat. As mysterious machines appear all around me, I stare up through the holes in the netting at the silvery insulation in the empty acoustical tile in the ceiling, listening to the faint but relentlessly cheery Xmas Muzak, counting the seconds until, from some unseen corner behind a wall, the metal table is turned around with many mechanical movements, and the attendants set me free.
Yesterday, as Jennifer drew the mask over my face, I heard her whisper
to Dot, with some concern, "It's getting tighter." And my lips were pinched
closed over my teeth. Today, with a will of its own, my chin wouldn't stop
trembling. It was ridiculous for my chin to tremble so violently, and I
was afraid I'd screwed up the session, scattering radiation up and down
my face, and couldn't ask them to do it all over because there's only so
much radiation they can give you all at once, apparently. But I know what
the trembling means; it means that no matter how I smile and thank the
women for treating me when I say goodbye, I'm terrified of lying helpless
in the vise, of hearing the words, "The mask is shrinking," and of the
odd, unrecognizable smell of something burning.
B R A V E S O U L S R E C E I V E
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Last Year Today
LET IT BE WIDELY KNOWN THAT
a few objects are now available for giving
as gifts to one's self & others:
& pindeldyboz #3
& the american journal of print #3
& sonewmedia is now
accepting preorders for
beneath the axis of evil: one man's journeys into the
horrors of war by neal pollack
& although it's not a purchasable product, an eyeshot contributor has
a story and an interview on the new yorker site